AAA Revives Offensive Against Safer D.C. Streets

AAA has been known, at times, to take positions in direct opposition to cyclists’ safety. Then when cyclists call AAA out on it, AAA starts backpedaling fast, assuring us all how much they love people who bike.

Washington's 15th Street protected bike lane. The American Automobile Association has come out against a similar project to add a protected bike lane on L Street. Photo: WJLA DC

But the organization is sticking with its ongoing battle against  safer streets for cycling in Washington, D.C. As David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington recently reported, an AAA spokesman has been attacking plans for a bike lane in the nation’s capital using some tired, but heated, language:

AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend no longer says a new bike lane means “a war on cars.” Now, in criticizing a bike lane on L Street NW, he says, “I’m not saying it’s a war on cars, but…”

Townsend was objecting to the new L Street bike lane, which DDOT started installing this week. The lane will provide a protected path for cyclists from New Hampshire Avenue to 12th Street. AAA Mid-Atlantic apparently isn’t happy that only 3 of the 4 lanes will be designed around cars, rather than all of them.

“[The bike lane] fails to recognize that the vast majority of people still rely on cars,” said Townsend. Townsend’s statement fails to recognize that the vast majority of street space is still devoted to cars as well. The few bike lanes DC has installed to date fall far short of allocating street infrastructure fairly.

Attention AAA: Many of your members are cyclists as well as drivers. What’s more, bikes take up less space than cars and can help reduce gridlock. Attacking safety improvements for cyclists is unbecoming.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Sharable Cities explains how Minneapolis has used bike infrastructure to attract young professionals and boost its economy. Transit Miami says the carnage that is excused on a daily basis on south Florida streets deserves as much attention as the tragedies that dominate the news cycle. And Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s blog, The Fast Lane, updates readers on the impressive progress being made across the country on passenger rail.